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What's Your UL Fly and Bubble Rig?
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Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
What's Your UL Fly and Bubble Rig? on 05/20/2012 18:46:03 MDT Print View

I'm a beginning fisher and want to put together a compact little fly and bubble kit using a my spinning reel and two-piece rod. I hope to catch (or at least pester) trout in mountain lakes and streams (I live in Central Oregon). I've read plenty of articles and a couple books and see a fair assortment of bits and pieces that can be used, but there is little discussion about lightweight kits -- fly boxes, what to carry in them, tools, a list of "don't leave home without them" dry flies and nymphs -- or about how to keep everything at hand without also bringing a fishing vest.

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Fishing on 05/20/2012 21:27:28 MDT Print View

I've done a lot of fishing , especially flyfishing, and recently trimmed my kit to fit my more minimal style these days. I use basically the same bits except alot less of it, including a much smaller fly box. I pack a small stuff sack with my small fishing kit and toss that in my pack until I want to start fishing. Then, I take my kit out of my pack and put all my fishing stuff directly into my pants/shorts pockets. Fishing this way is so much easier and more convenient that I'm surprised I didn't do it sooner. I think chest pockets, zippers and Velcro are just clever torture devices devised by outdoor companies to drive us crazy. Now I reach directly into my pocket and immediately locate exactly what I need.

Small fly box
Tiny file
Spare leader
One spool of Tippett (5x)

Tiny splitshot and indicators go into the fly box with my flies. For bubble fishing you would likely need almost the same exact kit except maybe a couple different size bubbles instead of indicators. I don't know where you fish but in the high Sierra only a basic selection of flies is required. Hare's ear, golden stone, zebra midge, for the bottom. Elk hair, hopper, and parachute adams imitate most dries. These are just standbys that come to mind which I use often, any similar patterns in sizes 16-22 will work just as well for them hungry Iil alpine fish. As for fishing somewhere in more challenging conditions, only your local fisher gurus can tell you what patterns to carry, and often it's critical that you follow their advice and learn their tricks. For instance, on the East Walker you can catch fish on anything, but it wasn't until I mastered high-sticking with a tiny hook on the bottom that I started landing very large fish in that river.

Since going more minimal, I find I enjoy fishing more because I can focus on the hunt and not on gear. Good luck!

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
Adan: thanks for tips on 05/21/2012 12:03:32 MDT Print View

Hi Adan,

You wrote, "I don't know where you fish but in the high Sierra only a basic selection of flies is required. [List of flies clipped]."

My fishing is in the Oregon Cascades and mainly on the eastern slopes. The smaller, higher lakes and streams, not the big bpys, like the Metolius, Whychus Creek, the Deschutes et al which are lower down. Your basic fly selection will probably work okay here.

Thanks for the list, this helps me trim and adjust.

Mike Garcia
(mountainfly) - F

Locale: Aurora, Co
Lanyard / Fishing tip on 05/22/2012 16:45:57 MDT Print View

I made a simple lanyard out of Para cord, and attached a small flybox, floatant, tippet, clippers, and weight. To attach the weight I simply tie a piece of monofilament to the Para chord, and then I snap the weight to the mono. I store the lanyard in a zip lock bag when it’s in my pack to keep everything together.

I fish allot of high mountain lakes with a flyrod. I love catching fish on big dries, but fish are not always rising, and bugs are not always hatching. I found the best way to consistently hook up with fish when the fishing is tough is to fish a streamer, and then a nymph tied off about 16’’ below the steamer. Good Luck!

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Re: What's Your UL Fly and Bubble Rig? on 05/22/2012 18:19:06 MDT Print View

I keep my tenkara stuff in a zip-lock. I don't take floatant because I just swap to a dry fly. I'd think that it could look much the same, plus a bubble:

tenkara kit

The hemostats can clip on my shirt and everything else goes in the zip-lock in a pocket.

For flies with a bubble rig ... a dry dropper combination with a size 16 Adams and size 16 hare's ear nymph (or copper john) might be worth a try.

(One advantage of tenkara is that it's 6 oz, rod included. Another is the whole "one fly" thing.)

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Adams or Parachute on 05/22/2012 18:32:36 MDT Print View

BTW, a Parachute Adams is easier to see, but at least for me, a regular Adams gets more hits.

David Passey
(davidpassey) - F

Locale: New York City
Re: What's Your UL Fly and Bubble Rig? on 05/22/2012 18:39:44 MDT Print View

I have had a lot of luck lately with really wild woolybugger patterns--silver with red tails and white body hackle as an example.

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
UL Fly-and-bubble rig: floatant on 05/23/2012 09:47:22 MDT Print View

Any you guys take floatant with you?

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Re: UL Fly-and-bubble rig: floatant on 05/23/2012 09:56:13 MDT Print View

Floatant is great, and will extend the use of one dry fly from a few minutes to ... maybe ten or fifteen? Something like that. I use my bottle of Loon Outdoors Aquel when I"m fishing dries with my regular fly rod and heavier kit.

But I'd think it is optional for a UL trip, especially if you pre-treat a few flies.

Of course, another advantage of that $45 tenkara rod is that you typically fish wet flies.

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
tenkara on 05/23/2012 10:07:15 MDT Print View

Maybe I shouldn't push tenkara too hard ... while it works for small streams, and should work along lake edges or where streams enter lakes, it won't have the reach of a spinning rod. So for the lighter weight you make "dinner getting" a little harder work, with a little longer odds.

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
I Reckon That's Why I Don't Think Tenkara . . . on 05/23/2012 10:45:36 MDT Print View

. . . is the kind of rig I want. Here, in the Central Oregon Cacades, esp. on the east (drier) side, the mountain streams are very small and probably not great for trout. It's the pretty little high mountain lakes that I am interested in fishing, so I need more reach than tenkara provides.

For floatant, I think just a mini-dropper will be just fine.

John Jensen
(JohnJ) - F

Locale: Orange County, CA
Central Oregon Cacades on 05/23/2012 11:18:24 MDT Print View

I'd be happy to come try sometime ;-).

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Nothing big in the streams? on 05/23/2012 11:53:22 MDT Print View

It was on the wet side of the Cascades, but I was shocked when fishing a tiny bathtub sized pool in a dinky little stream for cutthroats when a yard long salmon/steelhead (?) launched itself from nearly under my feet up the 1' falls at the head of the bathtub!

Scared the liver out of me!

A talk later with a DFG guy had him telling me there was no chance of anything that large being in that creek.

May you also be surprised by what "isn't" there!

Marc Shea
(FlytePacker) - F

Locale: Cascades
Re: What's Your UL Fly and Bubble Rig? on 05/23/2012 12:24:00 MDT Print View


You may want to take a look at the fourums over at and These organizations are responsible for stocking fry and doing fish counts in Washington. They are a couple of organiztations that ensure the success of the High Lakes fishery in Washington. Anyway, of note is this thread that goes through a series of favorite lures and flies for the cascades.

Personally, I use a Shakespeare Travel Mate rod and reel that I have had for a number of years. Of the telescoping rods on the market, in my opinion, these are some of the best. Keep an eye out for 50% off sales at Big5 as often times you can get a 4'6" Shakespeare telescoping rod and reel for around $15.00. In my experience the Shakespeare rods tend to take more abuse than other similarly priced telescoping rods. Of course, YMMV.

Finally, you can check out the Emmrod. They can be a little pricey, and there is a learning curve to using them, but they are a pretty bulletproof packrod.

Edited by FlytePacker on 05/23/2012 12:26:27 MDT.

Nicholas Meadors

Locale: Teh Front Range
Re: Re: What's Your UL Fly and Bubble Rig? on 05/23/2012 13:54:04 MDT Print View

what kinds of spinning reels are you guys using? I have the shakesphere 4'6" collapsible pole and i just threw on a zebco 11 mini spincaster. I'm a little worried about the mostly plastic, made in china composition of the zebco lasting my entire thru hike though.

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
What's Likely to be There on 05/23/2012 15:33:21 MDT Print View

Stephen wrote, "May you also be surprised by what 'isn't' there!"

I get that. And thanks! If nothing else it makes for a great adventure and a good story.

But applying Mike Clelland's suggestion that one look at one's gear list and separate it into "needs" and "wants," I don't "need" to bring a fishing rig at all because I don't try to live off the land. It's a "want."

I reckon that if I'm going to pack a "want," I'll bring the rig most likely to be of use, as there are hundreds of lakes with trout and I'll venture not so many Leviathans living in washtubs.

John says he'd like to try his hand at tenkara fishing on the dry side of the Oregon Cascades. Well, c'mon over!

Marc: thanks for the links to other forums. The lures/flies thread is an excellent resource! I'm going to see if I can find any forums for Oregon that are similar to the Washington Stage high lakes fish/fry ones.

Paul Gibson
(pgibson) - F

Locale: SW Idaho
Re: I Reckon That's Why I Don't Think Tenkara . . . on 05/23/2012 16:01:19 MDT Print View

You would be surprised at just how well Tenkara works on lakes. 2 years ago all I was fishing was Fly and bubble off a spin rig. Last year I committed to try Tenkara on the mountain lakes over here in Idaho. I never caught more fish faster than on my Tenkara setup. No I can't cast 60 feet but I can cast 20-25 foot of line easily and 90% of the time that if far to much. 12-15 foot of line is more than sufficient. When the fish are cruising the edges of a lake I found that I was often having to back up to cast the fly along the waters edge.

The trip that convinced me was one were we set up the bubble rig and were catching good 6-10 inch fish regularly with a bead head black bugger but as we stood there on the bank of the lake we were having 12-16 inch fish cruising at our feet out to about 10 foot out. There was no way to cast the bubble rig in that close and not spook the fish. Trying to reel in the fly to that range we would loose the motion in the fly as it got so close to the rod tip. I removed the bubble, added a hopper and cast the line ala Tenkara and immediately got strikes.

Tenkara works great on lakes when your sight fishing with drys or even drifting a nymph. I am now 100% Tenkara (better by selling them) and my favorite fishing is on lakes. Just saying Tenkara is not limited in any way when it comes to lake fishing.

Marc Shea
(FlytePacker) - F

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Re: What's Your UL Fly and Bubble Rig? on 05/23/2012 16:15:07 MDT Print View

Nicholas, I use the Shakespeare reels that come with the Travel Mate kits. I have not had any problems with them and they seem to hold up well. I have read good things about the Okuma Ultralite 10 as far as durability.

Jack Elliott
(JackElliott) - F

Locale: Bend, Oregon, USA
Saving my money for other things on 05/23/2012 16:32:03 MDT Print View

Paul, I am attracted to straight fly fishing -- did it decades ago when I had a budget for such things -- but that rig has long since gone missing. Tenkara also intrigues me.

I've just retired and gone on Social Security so I have to watch my pennies. I already got the spinning rig. So that's what I'm gonna go with. Adding a few bubbles and some flies is a lot less expensive than getting into another rig altogether.

I've got a couple friends who fly fish exclusively and tease me for being a "hardware fisherman," but I like that my rig is the more blue-collar.

But let's please keep this thread on subject, which is UL fly-and-bubble rigs. You tenkara guys can start yer own darn thread. G'wan, get outta here.

Edited by JackElliott on 05/23/2012 17:14:31 MDT.

David Affleck
High country lakes rig... on 05/23/2012 18:03:17 MDT Print View

I wouldn't call it my Fly & Bubble rig, because I never use a F&B, but my high country lakes outfit is a 4 piece St. Croix light spinning rod with a Shimano Ci4 microline reel. Weighs about 11 oz. fully spooled and ready for business. Casts a 1/4 oz. spinner over 100' with ease. A joy to bring in 12" brookies on.

I keep thinking I'm going to try the F&B technique, but still have not gotten around to it. Maybe this year. I've always been pretty content to toss metalic lures or a Rapala. I think the ability to cast long distances is a significant asset using these lures on spooky fish in clear water. When the artificials are failing and I really want to catch fish, I've found terretrials from around the water I'm fishing to often be deadly - live hoppers or small red worms normally being the easiest to come by.

- Dave